Groovy Evil Dead Hands-On Impressions
From the first time we saw Ash hack Deadites to bits in the Evil Dead movies, we've wondered what it'd be like to be the one wielding the chainsaw. Doom satisfied that urge a bit, but id's seminal shooter lacked the sense of humor and cartoonish gore the Sam Raimi films are known for. A handful of survival horror and action games have attempted to resurrect the dormant franchise, but they too failed to please fans. Now, much like Ash's struggle with demonic possession, the most recent Evil Dead infection begins in your hand.
Trigger Apps' iOS title is divided into two chapters, the first of which retells the grizzly events of Evil Dead 1 & 2, including the necronomican, furious foliage, and an undead lover. Except this time Ash doesn't get sucked into the medieval world of Army of Darkness after the climax. Instead, the story continues with Ash revisiting the cursed cabin in the winter, navigating the snowy woods in an effort to finally sever evil's foothold. The story is mostly told through text prior to each mission, and isn't exactly the best introduction to the kooky plot if you're unfamiliar with the films.
Though the game is targeted at fans of the series, there's plenty for everyone else to be moderately entertained by, such as twin stick shooting segments, hacking bad things to bits, and light platforming. Players guide Ash with a virtual thumbstick on the lower left of the screen. Many iOS games have attempted this control mechanic and failed, but Evil Dead does succeed where others failed. You'll spend a good chunk of your time trekking through the woods, hacking up murderous plants with an axe, and leaping across stones in the river. A few claustrophobic battles occur in the dusty cabin, including an interesting fight where you must bust the lock off the ominous cellar and lure Ash's possessed girlfriend within.
When you acquire the signature boomstick, the control focuses on dual analog gameplay similar to Robotron or Geometry wars. Lining up angles can be touchy, but everything goes down easily enough that you won't become frustrated. The best moments easily involve Ash carving up zombies with the chainsaw, which causes bloody eyeballs and other gore to splatter onto the screen. The player must frantically wipe away the obscuring mess with their fingers so they can get back to the Deadite killing. The bloody blinding effect is a neat way to convey the series' signature violence, but in the end it feels very gimmicky.
The game has a unique art style, sporting a bobblehead cast and plant life with exaggerated proportions. Evil Dead looks crisp, runs well, and is one of the better-looking mobile titles I've seen. The lighthearted retelling of the film's story was entertaining, and would have benefited from more animated cutscenes throughout.
Evil Dead is a brief experience. Each level is perfect for a bite-sized mobile game (about 2-3 minutes each), but the mere 40 stages means your Bruce Campbell fantasy won't last long. The game is also incredibly easy, so don't expect a lot of trial and error. I have a feeling that after you finish this one you won't be itching to play it again right away, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy dismembering Deadites while it lasts.